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Outside of Africa

July 15, 2010

Obama’s reaction to the Uganda bombings by an Islamist terrorist organisation was to say that “al Qaeda — and the groups like al Shabaab that they inspire — do not value African life. The actions of al Qaeda and the groups that it has inspired show a willingness to sacrifice innocent African life to reach their targets.” This was later elaborated by an “administration official” as meaning that al Qaeda is “racist”.

Maybe Obama should come to realise that al Qaeda & Co don’t value American life either. Come to think of it, neither do they seem to see much value in Asian, European or Australian life. How many bombings will it take, you think, until the president understands that, too?

For an administration that apparently would rather cut its tongue out than to spell out the obvious link between recent terrorist attacks (against US and other targets) and radical Islam, saying that killings in Uganda show that al Qaeda is racist is just another way of focusing like a laser on the periphery of the problem. It’s like saying that al Qaeda doesn’t value the life of soccer fans.

Even as a talking point this is weak. Within the US, the charge of racism is one that nobody wants to be subjected to, but it’s also one of the most inflated as it’s routinely misused in ad-hominem attacks by the side that can’t win on the merits of facts. But maybe we should praise Obama for having downgraded al Qaeda to the same nastiness level as the Tea Party?

On the international stage, calling a group racist is not going to provoke even the bat of an eyelash. The only context in which it can be used with some success is when directed against Israel (because, when the goal is to harm Israel, anything goes). And you have to wonder how such an ethnicity-focused reaction is received on continents, other than Africa, where lives have been lost to similar attacks.

The silver lining is that the president acknowledging that al Qaeda doesn’t care about African life might be the first step into a full realisation of the degree of evil that this organisation represents. Maybe soon Obama will have an epiphany and see that al Qaeda doesn’t value the life of tennis fans either.

But, d’accord, maybe the French Cowboy is being too harsh here. Since the goal is to destroy al Qaeda, the mantra should be “anything goes”. And if emphasising their racism works, then just go ahead, emphasise it.

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